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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 11:19 GMT
Brits 'vote rigging' stopped
Westlife's Nicky Byrne
Westlife won the Brit for best pop act last year
Westlife have had almost 1,000 phone votes cancelled by Brit Awards organisers after the calls were found to have been made from just three phone lines.

Music fans can vote for their favourites in the best pop act category, where the Irish boy band are up against other stars including Kylie Minogue and S Club 7.

I think it's just their over-obsessive fans

Brit Awards spokeswoman
Brits organisers found that the three lines had made hundreds of votes each, but are blaming fans rather than a record company plot to make sure they go home with the award.

Viewers of music TV show CD:UK and readers of The Sun newspaper have been able to vote in the category, with phone lines remaining open until Monday, two days before the awards ceremony.

 Click here to watch Westlife sing Uptown Girl on Top Of The Pops

Brits organisers said they scratched 500 votes that came from one number, 300 from another and 100 from the third.

Zoe Ball
Zoe Ball will co-host this year's ceremony
"I don't think it's anything as sinister as record companies doing it or anything like that," a spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

"I think it's just their over-obsessive fans, and I'm sure Westlife have a lot of obsessive fans."

Chart-toppers Hear'Say and Blue complete the category, with the award handed out in London on Wednesday.

The ceremony will be hosted by Zoe Ball and Frank Skinner.

"It's going to be quite a closely- contested one and I don't think we're going to know the outcome until the night itself," the spokeswoman added.

Westlife won the pop Brit last year and have picked up a string of other awards, including the best band prize at the Smash Hits Awards and the top pop title at the Top of the Pops Awards.

Nine out of the group's 10 UK singles have gone to number one, while their latest album, World of Our Own, hit the top spot in November 2001.

See also:

13 Feb 02 | Showbiz
Westlife dismiss Pop Idol song
09 Dec 01 | Music
Westlife top Smash Hits awards
01 Dec 01 | Music
Westlife named 'Top Pop' act
05 Jan 02 | Showbiz
McFadden and Katona tie knot
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Putting on the Brits
27 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Two Brits and a chainsaw
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